Like most of us right now (or is it just me?), I am drawn to the news like a moth to a flame. Always checking to see what the latest virus counts are and where the new hot spots are. A few days ago, the headline of our local paper was “From Bad to Worse.” Yesterday I met virtually with a group of friends. We shared story after story of those whose lives were already difficult and suddenly, as COVID-19 arrived, their lives have gone from bad to worse. The present looks bleak, and the future is uncertain.
Every year my husband and I go to Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) a small, southern African country with the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. We partner with the local church there in helping with education, health clinics, and clean water. Directions in Eswatini are a little more colorful than here. You turn left “just past the river.” The church meets “under the large tree.” We often visit an area where we have helped to build a school. To get there you turn right off the paved road onto a dirt road. We mark the turn by a small abandoned store on the corner that is tagged with the graffiti, “Betta Daze.”
Each time I see it, I think about how the people of Eswatini want and need better days. And now the whole world nods in agreement. And there is a better day promised. Right now I’m reading Isaiah 60. It’s packed full of pictures of what that better day will look like. No need for a sun or a moon—the Lord is our light. “Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light and your days of sorrow will end” (v. 20). And my favorite promise of all, “your sons come from afar and your daughters are carried on your arm” (v. 4). One of our sons is in heaven, and it will be not just a better day but a great day when our whole family is together again. And not just our immediate family, sons and daughters from the whole family of God will gather—people from every tribe and nation will all be worshipping with glad and thankful hearts.
I’m pinning my hopes on that great day of the Lord. As Ray Ortlund says in his commentary on Isaiah, “the present is not the measure of the future.” Our days of sorrow will end, and the light of God’s love will shine on this dark world.
Well, that’s all well and good, you (and I) might say. But what about this day? This day of disease, death, quarantine, crashing markets, and shuttered businesses? Jesus, the one who conquered death, says, in light of that great coming day, to take each day one at a time and to pray the simple prayer he gave us for daily bread and daily help (Matthew 6:9–13, 33). By faith we can bow our heads and hearts on this day and do what the Lord has set before us—pray for the needy, faithfully do whatever work we have, fill our minds with his words to us, and look for ways to help those whose lives have suddenly gone from bad to worse.
We can do this because we are sure that our best day is ahead. Lately, I keep looking up to see if Jesus is arriving on the clouds. Maybe today?